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Driving Guide

Barbados Driving Guide

Barbados is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

2021-08-12 · 9min read

Driving in Barbados can be quite a feat. A short drive through the beautiful island of Barbados will surely captivate the inner explorer in you, regardless of whether you are traveling for leisure or business. With alluring cultural and tourism sites in every corner, you might soon place Barbados under your yearly bucket list.

Do remember that driving around Barbados draws in a couple of rules. If you plan to drive yourself in Barbados, driving on the road’s left side is the main thing you need to know. If you are not used to left-hand driving, Barbadians are warm and accommodating people that will help you. Moreover, the rules are not as scary as they seem. Give a bit of time to understand it before traveling, and you’ll be alright.

Waterfront Barbados Photo by Kathryn Maingot

How can this guide help you?

This destination might soon become one of your favorite travel memories. More than just looking at Barbados’ driving maps, let this article serve as your main guide from acquiring an International Driver’s Permit down to a couple of etiquette hints for driving in Barbados, most important road rules, what you can do in the country, and how to drive to the different destinations.

General Information

The first indigent civilization came from Venezuela, which braved the raging Caribbean waters to settle on the small island. These Amerindians were highly agricultural—farming cotton, cassava, corn, guavas, peanuts, and papaya, and more. Fast forward to the present, Barbados has transitioned into a tourism and manufacturing-based economy, with agriculture comprising only 1% of the country’s GDP.

Geographic Location

Barbados is located within the Lesser Antilles. Specifically, it is situated 13.1939o North and 59.5432o West. Its closest neighboring country is St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and it is about 86 nautical miles away from Barbados.

Languages Spoken

Barbados has been under the British colony for more than 330 years. It officially follows British English as its primary language, ensuring ease of communication between an English-speaking tourist and a citizen. Within more informal settings, Barbadians practice their own unique Bajan Dialect. If you listen closely, you’d hear some adaptations from the West African language.

Besides, children are taught different foreign languages in school. Two (2) of the most common include Spanish and French.

Land Area

Nestled in the easternmost part of the Caribbean group of islands, Barbados covers about 430 square kilometers of land area with 92 kilometers of coastline. It is characterized by a flatter terrain as compared to its neighboring island nations, and the highest peak is Mount Hillaby, towering at 336 meters above sea level.

History

After the first Amerindian settlers (the Arawaks), the Carib Indians took place in the year 1200. This second civilization comprised of skilled bowmen, and they mostly hunted prey through bows and poisons. Centuries after, the first colonizers (Portuguese) set foot on the island and called it Los Barbados, meaning “the bearded ones”.

It was during the 17th – 18th century that the country became the sugar powerhouse of the region with the help of the English settlers. Unfortunately, it was also the period when slavery reached its peak up until 1834 when it was abolished. Barbados remained under British rule until it gained its independence in 1961.

Government

Barbados follows a parliamentary democratic government. It is still a member of the Commonwealth, though with the British Monarch as its Chief of State. The Head of Government, on the other hand, is the Prime Minister who is appointed by the Governor-General (official representative of the British Monarch). The legislative branch is composed of the Senate and the House of Assembly, with members who are appointed by the Governor-General and elected by the plurality vote, respectively.

Tourism

When people think of Barbados, they think about all the wonders the Caribbean has to offer. And Barbados does not disappoint. White sand beaches, pristine waters, panoramic cliffside views, parties, nature, and of course, rum! You name it all.

Between January to September 2019 alone, the country recorded a total of 522,583 visitors. This was a 4.2% increase from 2018 and an all-time high for decades! Apart from tourism, Barbados also caters to construction materials (i.e., clay tiles, cement blocks, paint), textiles, furniture, chemicals, electronic components, and many more.

The influx of tourists has made way for more livelihood opportunities, including tour-guiding, travel ticket outlets, and even driving schools in Barbados. Through the Fiscal Incentive Act also, businesses are entitled to tax holidays and discounted tax rates depending on their products’ value and market scale. So if you are a businessman traveling to Barbados, you will be taken by the many potentials the country has in store.

IDP FAQs

Your IDP is a valid form of identification that you can use in over 200+ countries. All essential information coming from your license is translated into 12 of the most spoken languages in the world with its presence. An IDP is not only useful when you’re driving in Barbados. You can use it practically anywhere in the world!

Applying for an IDP will:

  • Provide you with a translated version of your native driver’s license understandable to Barbadians
  • Allow you to provide a supporting identification document swiftly because it takes two(2) hours to get an IDP through the IDA
  • Allow you to apply for a visitors’ driving license
  • Allow you to rent a car
  • Provide you with a convenient way to access your license anywhere, anytime through the digital copy
  • Allow you to enroll at a driving school in Barbados

Do You Need an IDP to Drive in Barbados?

To drive legally in Barbados, you would need a domestic Barbados driving permit. You cannot use your native license to drive in the country. This is somewhat a temporary visitor’s driving permit. Foreign nationals have the option to apply for a 2-month permit or a 1-year permit. However, local licensing institutions will require you to present an IDP to proceed, except for holders of a U.K driving license.

Your IDP is also just an interpretation of your native driver’s license. If your native driver’s license expires less than a year from the date the IDP was issued, the IDP becomes invalid simultaneously with your native license. Outside of that, you have an option to obtain an IDP that is valid for one(1), two(2), or three(3) years. Again, best to check the validity of your native license first.

Who Can Apply For a Barbados-Recognized IDP?

Anyone who has a driver’s permit from their native country can apply for a Barbados-recognized IDP. This means that you should already know how to drive before traveling to Barbados.

However, the Barbados legal driving age is 18 years old, while the minimum age to rent a car is 21 years old. Other countries may have lower minimum driving age requirements. So even if you have an IDP, it wouldn’t be recognized for renting a car or obtaining a Barbados driving permit if you are still under 21 and 18, respectively.

When Should You Apply for an IDP?

It depends on how long you are going to stay in the country. If you’re just visiting for a few days, it would be best to apply for one before traveling to Barbados. IDP processing times might vary depending on the agency. You wouldn’t want to give out a chunk of your 10-day itinerary just for IDP processing (remember that you still need to apply for the Barbados local driver's permit, similar to a visitor’s driver’s license).

Through us, you can get your IDP within two (2) hours or even thirty(30) minutes. Applying for an IDP through the IDA only involves a 6-step process, and everything is done online through the website! You only need to choose an IDP Plan, fill in the form, pay via credit card or PayPal, and wait for a few minutes for IDP to verify and confirm. Also, since the validity of an IDP depends on the validity of your native driving permit, you should consider getting one before your native license expires to save on costs.

Renting a Car in Barbados

Barbados offers a lot of destinations to explore, and public transport is mostly concentrated in urban areas. If you want to explore the countryside at your own time and pace, renting a car is your next best option apart from renting a taxi.

Car Rental Companies

Car rental companies have different offices and branches around the country. Upon arrival at the Grantley Adam International Airport, you will already see a line-up of car rental booths.

Since many car hire companies require an IDP, it would be better to have one ready. However, going to offices might take long days of processing. If you don’t want to go through that, you can get one online through the International Driver’s Association as fast as 2 hours or even 30 minutes. Conveniently, many car rental companies also have websites where you can choose and book a car with just a few clicks.

You can scan through the following car rental companies and see what suits you best:

  • Drive Barbados

Email: getquote@driverbarbados.com

Telephone number: +1-246-624-0702

  • CARNGO

Email: support@carngo.com

Telephone number: +1-855-454-9316

  • Top Car

Email: topcarbdos@gmail.com

Telephone number: +1-246-435-0378

  • Five Star Fast Track

Email: reservations@givestarfasttrack.com

Telephone number: +1-246-421-6777

  • Stoute’s Car Rental Ltd.

Email: info@stoutescar.com

Telephone Number: +1-246-416-4456

  • Jones Car Rentals

Website: www.jonescarrentals.com/

Telephone Number: +1-246-425-6637

  • Mangera Car Rentals

Facebook page: Mangera Car Rentals Barbados

Telephone number: +1-246-436-0562 / +1-246-230-0212

  • Bajan Car Rentals Ltd.

Facebook page: Bajan Car Rental Ltd

Telephone number: +1-246-429-4327

  • BCR Car Rentals

Email: bookings@bcrcarrental.com

Telephone number: +1-246-428-8149

  • Coconut Car Rentals and Tours Ltd.

Facebook page: Coconut Car Rentals and Tours Barbados

Telephone number: +1-246-437-0297

Documents Required

Renting a car in Barbados is relatively fast and easy. You can even book a car online if that is more convenient for you.

You just need to present the following requirements:

  • Native license
  • International Drivers’ Permit
  • Passport
  • Local driving permit for Barbados visitors
  • Medical Certificate (for people over 70 years old)
  • Filled-up Registration Form of the car rental company
  • Insurance documents (if available)

Vehicle Types

The Barbados local driving permit will allow you to rent lots of different cars. Specifically, you can rent sedans, hatchbacks, mokes, Jimnys, APVs, SUVs, and more. If you plan to go often to the countryside, sports vehicles for rugged terrains would be your best options. For SUV driving, Barbados offers varied rates for rental options, depending on the model.

Barbados exhibits flat to rolling or hilly terrains. Driving through Barbados' urban areas will be quite an easy-breezy for you because of well-paved roads. When choosing a vehicle, you should consider your destinations and the number of passengers and luggage you expect to carry.

Road conditions in the countryside might have more potholes than you can imagine. This is where SUV driving in Barbados can become so handy and exciting. So planning your destinations is key!

Car Rental Cost

According to Trip Advisor, the average daily cost to rent a car in Barbados is $71. These are mostly sedans. Prices will depend on t of vehicle type, where the vehicle will be delivered, and the driver’s age.

A Kia Picanto, for example, may cost you about $30/day, while SUVs may cost you more than $90/day. Some companies offer cheaper rates like 10$/day. It would be best for you to do your research before arriving in Barbados.

Age Requirements

If you are at least 21 years old, most car rental companies in Barbados will allow you to rent. However, some car rental companies require their tenants to have had at least two (2) - five (5) years of driving experience.

For senior citizen drivers, driving in Barbados when you're over 70 will require you to present a medical certificate issued by a Barbados-based doctor. Don’t worry; you can always ask your car rental company for recommendations.

Some rental companies are strict when it comes to the client’s driving history. If you have previous driving violations such as DUI, Hit and Run, reckless driving, seatbelt violations, and the like, you might want to assure them that you’ll not be doing those while driving in Barbados.

Car Insurance Cost

As what is the same for all insurance policies, the price will depend on your age, the insurance coverage, and your driving experience. The younger you are, the more expensive car insurance costs will be. Likewise, if you are a senior citizen or have a medical history that could risk the rented car, your car insurance fees may also be higher.

Nevertheless, if you are renting a car, car insurance payments will be charged to you on a per-day basis. It will also depend on the item, or if you want, you can purchase a full comprehensive coverage. We recommend that you get at least the Personal Accident Insurance and the Loss or Damage to the Motor Vehicle Insurance. In case you already have car insurance prior to traveling to Barbados, double-check with your car rental company if it is applicable in the country.

Car Insurance Policy

Driving in Barbados is generally safe. However, to safeguard the businesses in the country, established car rental companies would require you to obtain an insurance policy and pay it along with their car rental fees. Barbados law also requires all vehicles to have insurance that will at least cover loss or damage expenses to a third-party.

Apart from third-party liability insurance, here are some other policies that you might want to consider buying when renting a car in Barbados:

  • Loss or Damage to the Motor Vehicle
  • Windshield Damage
  • Personal Accident Insurance
  • Loss or Damage to Personal Items inside the rented car
  • Roadside assistance

Other Facts

If you don’t have car insurance yet, you don’t have to worry about applying for one yourself, because your car rental company will take care of this for you. All you need to do is pay for it through them.

Where Can I Apply For a Local Driver's Permit Before Renting?

Once you acquired your IDP, you can now apply for a local driver’s permit. Take note that having an IDP will not guarantee that you will be granted a local driver’s permit. In some cases, the local licensing authority takes into consideration your driving experience in your native country.

You can inquire from the following Barbados Licensing Authority offices:

  • The Pine, St. Michael : Telephone Number 436-4920
  • Oistins, Christ Church : Telephone Number 428-2960
  • Speightstown, St. Peter : Telephone Number 432-0119
  • Bridgestreet Mall, Bridgetown : Telephone Number 535-8332
  • Holetown, St. James : Telephone Number 535-8162
  • Warrens Tower 11, St. Michael : Telephone Number 535-8000
  • Roebuck Street, St. Michael : Telephone Number 535-8600

Most of the offices are open between 8:30 am - 3:00 pm, Mondays to Fridays.

To avoid going through the hassle of doing this by yourself, local agencies offer this kind of service. You can look them up online before traveling or ask the airport concierge once you land in Barbados.

Is It Better to Rent A Car and Drive Yourself in Barbados?

Considering the multiple, unique destinations Barbados offers, you might find yourself wanting to go to all of them. With this, renting a car can be cheaper than you think.

Taxis are present in the area. However, these are not metered ones. According to Lonely Planet, the rate per kilometer is around 3BBD or 0.5USD. If you go longer distances, you might have your fares at a discounted price, and with this, you may enjoy a much long relaxing vacation.

Barbados Photo by Kathryn Maingot

The Road Rules in Barbados

Educating yourself with the Highway Code Booklet provisions will help you pass the driving license test, Barbados edition. You can buy this booklet from any Barbados Licensing Authority office.

Important Regulations

To give you an idea of what’s inside the booklet, below is a rundown of the most important road traffic regulations in Barbados.

Drunk-Driving

Drunk-driving laws in Barbados have only been implemented during the start of 2020. Police will be conducting random breathalyzer tests on people who are assumed to be intoxicated. The maximum blood alcohol concentration limit (BAC) is 35 micrograms per 100ml of blood. If you are caught driving beyond the maximum BAC, you will have to pay a fine of at least $5,000 or be imprisoned for two years, even on the first conviction.

Seatbelt Laws

All passengers, including the driver, are required to wear a seat belt at all times. Likewise, children below five (5) years old must use a child seat, and you should be allowed to sit on the front passenger seat. If you have children along the trip, you don’t have to bring along your own child seat because car rental companies usually provided this (for free or for an extra charge).

Parking Laws

You should only park in designated parking areas wherever you go in Barbados. Most roads are narrow so avoid parking on the side of the road. Parking areas are marked with a “P” sign, or you can just ask locals where the nearest parking spot is. Similar to the parking laws in other countries, you shouldn’t park in the following areas at any given time:

  • Street corners
  • Intersections
  • Roundabouts
  • Bridges
  • Curved roads
  • Sloping roads
  • Pedestrian areas (like crossings)

General Standards

You should always drive safely. This means that you should not get yourself distracted by any other object or thought while driving. This is for you to be able to respond to situations immediately in order to avoid any unwanted accidents. The use of a mobile phone while driving, but it has to be in a hands-free mode. If you meet an accident (with or without damages) because you were distracted, you will be in violation of driving without due care and attention.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Barbados vary depending on the area the road is located. Road speeds are measured in miles per hour (mph), which are lower than kilometers per hour (kph).

When you drive in the city, an urban area, a speed limit of 20-30 mph or 32 kph needs to be maintained for safety purposes. If you drive by the countryside or the rural areas, the limit is higher at 37 mph or 60 kph. Traversing a motorway, and you can go as fast as 50mph or 80 kph. Meanwhile, if you happen to come across a construction zone, speed limits are only at 25 kph, unless stated otherwise.

Driving Directions

Obediently following the traffic lights and signs would help you avoid any untoward injury. In Barbados, one-way streets exist, and these are properly marked with traffic signs. Whenever you turn a corner, watch out for any of these directional signs. Likewise, when approaching an intersection, know where you’ll need to turn to. This way, prior to approaching the intersection, you’ll already know which lane to maneuver to.

With regards to roundabouts, Barbados usually have two-lane roundabouts. It is important that you know where your exit it so you’ll know which lane you should position your car in. If your exit is the first exit, stay on the outside lane of the roundabout. On the other hand, if your exit is still the second, third or fourth exit, you should stay on the inner lane and just switch lanes whenever you need to exit already.

Traffic Road Signs

Traffic road signs include the signs and symbols that are erected vertically in strategic areas of the road. However, the road markings you see on the road pavement itself are also crucial traffic signs. Here are some of the standard road lines that you will see around Barbados and their corresponding meanings:

  • A broken line with long sections and short gaps means that you shouldn’t cross the line unless you can see no road obstructions ahead, including incoming traffic.
  • Double solid lines mean that you shouldn’t cross it under any circumstance unless you have to avoid a road obstruction, or the police told you to do so.
  • Asymmetrical lines (one solid line and one broken line) mean you can overtake following standard safety procedures.
  • Short, broken lines divide lanes. If you don’t have any plans to overtake, you should stay in the left-hand side of the road.
  • Lastly, diagonal stripes protect incoming traffic and delineate outgoing traffic to make a right turn.

The meanings of the lines are similar to most countries. If ever you’ve had ample driving experience, interpreting road lines will not take you more than a second anymore.

Right of Way

Since the Barbados driving side is on the left, you are to allow vehicles to conveniently pass whether they are overtaking on your right. If you will come to a roundabout, the rule of thumb is to give way to vehicles approaching from the right unless there are road traffic signs that instruct otherwise.

If you are interested in enrolling at a driving school in Barbados, you will know more about the right of way in the country.

If you are at least 18 years old, then you can drive legally in Barbados. This is also the minimum age to be able to apply for an International Drivers Permit. So if you have your native driving license and an IDP, you’ll be able to apply for a temporary visitor’s driving permit in the country. Some countries allow people as young as 14 years old to obtain a full driver’s license. If you secured your native driving license when you were 14 and had been driving for more than two(2) years, you still wouldn’t be able to drive in Barbados if you are not yet 18.

Laws on Overtaking

Before overtaking, check all your mirrors if the road is clear enough. This means that there are no vehicles behind you that are attempting to overtake. If the road is clear, turn on your signal. Do not forget to turn on your right signal light before steering your wheel to the right. After a few seconds, slowly maneuver to the right to get out of your lane. Once you’ve driven past the vehicles in front of you, turn on your left signal light and maneuver back to the left lane with caution. Avoid cutting traffic as much as possible.

Likewise, you should not overtake when you’re at or near a pedestrian lane, an intersection, a road bend, or a narrow road. If you are not yet fully confident with your maneuvering skills, check out some driving schools in Barbados. They might offer targeted training.

Driving Side

When you are in Barbados, driving on the left is what they adhere to. If you come from a country that practices right-hand driving, it might take you some time to get used to it, especially when switching lanes and doing your turns. You may want to ease down on your driving speeds on your first few tries or practice in an open area before heading out to the main road.

If you know of any other fellow visitor-driver who is adept at driving on the right-hand side, try getting his/her advice for getting used to driving on the left side of the road in Barbados.

Other Road Rules

These are just some few road rules to follow while you are in Barbados. Don’t worry; before you can get your temporary driving license, you’ll be given the highway code for you to go over all the important road rules.

How Do You Check Your Car Before Driving in Barbados?

Making sure that your car is in check doesn’t just keep you safe. It also prevents inconvenience for other motorists and pedestrians alike.

Before driving out, check the following as often as you can:

  • Seatbelts are working properly
  • Headlamps and reflectors are in good condition
  • The speedometer is well calibrated
  • The horn is perfectly working
  • Mirrors are intact
  • Wipers are clean and not stuck
  • Tires are not deflated
  • Brakes are in the best working condition
  • The steering wheel is well-fitted

Also, some car rental companies offer the following supplies in case of emergency:

  • First aid kit
  • Toolbox
  • Warning device
  • Mini fire extinguisher
  • Extra water
  • Extra oil
  • Extra brake fluid
  • Extra tire

You might want to consider the list above ou weigh whether your rental cost is worth it.

What Are Road Stunts?

Road manners-wise, vehicles caught doing stunts are guilty of an offense and liable to a fine of $500 or imprisonment of three (3) months, or both.

Road stunts are defined by the 2017 Road Traffic (Amendment) Regulation as driving in a manner that indicates intentions of:

  • Lifting the car tires
  • Making the vehicles spin
  • Causing the tires to lose traction
  • Interfering with the safety of another road user by driving closely or cutting off its passage
  • Driving over the speed limit
  • Driving while not sitting appropriately in the driver’s seat
  • Prolonged driving on the other side of the highway intended for oncoming traffic

What Are the Rules on Texting While Driving?

Barbadians cannot use or hold cellular phones, radios, and other transmitting devices while driving. This includes “interactive communication” activities like sending or reading electronic messages/documents and accessing the internet. Drivers who get caught are liable to a fine of $2000 or imprisonment of 18 months, or both.

Driving Etiquette in Barbados

Road decorum is an integral part of effectively carrying out the road rules anywhere in the world. Even in circumstances when you’ll come across drivers with much road rage, you should always adhere to being polite and courteous.

Car Breakdown

The first rule is not to panic. If your car breaks down, try to get it off the middle of the road. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if there are people nearby because it would also be for their safety and convenience. Once you’ve relocated your car to the side of the road, contact your car rental company and see if they have emergency responders at reach. If there are locals nearby, also ask if they know of any vehicle repair shop around.

In instances where you will not be able to get your car to the side most lane, strategically place a reflector triangle (if available) on the rear end of your car. This is highly important, especially when your car broke down during the nighttime. However, before going out of your car, make sure that you have all your essential personal belongings and lock the car to be safe.

On the brighter side, circumstances like this can be avoidable. Checking your car's lights, oil, gas, and other essential parts before heading out to drive would be a good idea. Likewise, make sure to ask your car rental company for the country’s updated emergency services numbers.

Police Stops

Before driving out, make sure to check that you have all your important driving and identification documents with you. This includes your IDP, your domestic driver’s permit, car registration, and car rental papers.

If you get pulled over by police while driving in Barbados, practice courtesy and greet the officers calmly. Do not go out of the car immediately but ask the officer first why you were pulled over. The police should be able to explain to you clearly your violations if there were.

Extend your apologies for any inconvenience caused and politely ask the officer what you can do to compensate for the violation. For sure, the police will ask for your identification cards and other details, and you should be able to show them willingly. If ever the concerns are major, mindfully ask for details, and you can call your car rental company for assistance if you need some.

Asking Directions

Barbados driving maps are available almost everywhere to help you locate your destinations faster. However, some Barbados driving maps can be confusing, depending on the publisher.

Situations such as losing your way while driving through Barbados are possible, so don’t hesitate to ask the locals around. Bajans are very friendly and accommodating people. Even if you don’t speak English well, they will gladly assist you until you get what you are looking for. If you can’t speak English well, you can also bring pictures and other driving maps of Barbados to help explain.

Checkpoints

Checkpoints in the country are mostly for immigration and health purposes. You will rarely see police checkpoints around. Nevertheless, the police may still conduct random checkpoints for the safety of the public. Especially now that drunk-driving laws have been put in place, the police may station random sobriety checkpoints around. So if you come across a checkpoint, expect that the police will request to see your driving documents and perhaps your travel documents as well.

Other Tips

Observing proper road manners shouldn’t stress anyone out. If you just remember to exercise patience and calmness, the rest will follow. Here are other tips that you can bring along when driving in the country.

What To Do If You Run Into An Accident?

Running into an accident may put you on a rollercoaster of emotions. But similar to when your car breaks down, try to stay calm as much as possible.

Be mindful of your surroundings and see what movements will serve you best. If you can reach for your phone, immediately call for medical assistance if needed. Otherwise, contact the police to help you smooth things out.

These are the emergency hotlines in Barbados:

  • Police : 211
  • Fire Department: 311
  • Ambulance : 511

If ever you come into an accident with another road user, be careful not to enrage them. Talk to him/her calmly and respectfully. Encourage dialogue and explain that both of you are at an inconvenience and work together to figure it out.

While waiting for the emergency responders, take pictures of the incident if you can do so. Apart from having unhampered evidence, this will be needed when you apply for car insurance claims.

If you plan to get into a driving school in Barbados before your actual drive, some schools may offer first aid response training. You will have to clarify this with the school.

Driving Conditions in Barbados

You might be wondering as well how safe it is to drive in Barbados as a tourist. Over the years, Barbados has undergone and is continuously undergoing developments in its road and traffic infrastructures. Statistics have improved, and both local and foreign have refined their skills towards responsible driving.

Accident Statistics

According to the World Health Organization, road injuries have always been in the top 10 causes of death globally. In 2018, there were 25 road fatalities in Barbados, which translated to about 7.77 deaths per 100,000 individuals. This ranked the country #137 out of 183 in the world. For overall performance in driving records, Barbados is not that bad, right?

In 2013, 38.9% of road accident fatalities were pedestrians. This was followed by drivers/passengers in four-wheeled cars (33.3%), drivers/passengers in two to three-wheeled vehicles(16.7%), and cyclists (11.10%).

But don’t be misled by the numbers. Although four-wheeled vehicles accounted for the greatest portion of road traffic accidents, riding these vehicles is still safer than riding motorcycles and bicycles. This is because of the presence of seatbelts and other additional safety gear inside a car.

Common Vehicles

Because Barbados is developing as a popular tourist destination, the vehicle market is also growing along with it. You can find a variety of car units in the country, from two-seaters to commercial trucks. For tourist services, some of the most popular are the Toyota Hi-Ace Van, the Nissan Vanette, and the Suzuki Swift. You can also find premium cars around under the brands Lexus, Mazda, and Land Rover.

Transmission-wise, cars in Barbados also come in either manual transmission or automatic transmission. When you rent a car, expect that the type of transmission will also affect the price.

Toll Roads

There are no toll roads in Barbados, perhaps because of the size of the country. Beware, therefore, of people who stop you to collect “toll fees”. Barbados has had a history of what they called the “Road Toll Gang”. Members of this gang told tourists that the road section was closed and asked for money in return for their assistance. They have been permanently stopped by the government, of course, but just in case it happens again, be vigilant.

Road Situations

In 2011, Barbados signed up for the Decade of Road Safety Initiative (2011-2020). This was mainly due to the relatively high-averaged road fatalities during the preceding years.

Roads, mostly those in the countryside, were full of potholes and rough surfaces, which are very dangerous, especially at night. In addition, not all Barbados roads and streets were well-lit. Coupled with a few irresponsible pedestrians and heavy rains, road accidents in the country once seemed inexplicable for the country’s size.

The Decade of Road Safety Initiative opened a whole new development corridor for Barbados. It involved the speedy repair of existing roads and the construction of new roads and speed humps. Added with more road etiquette training from driving schools in Barbados, the statistics downsized by 61% in 2019 from an annual average of 28 deaths before 2011.

With the country mainly leaning on tourism and manufacturing, the initiative has invited more tourists and investors to harness Barbados’ potential.

Driving Culture

When you drive around Barbados, you will notice that vehicles may sound off their horns once or twice, even if there are no vehicles in front of them. This is often a friendly gesture to say “Hello” or “Thank you,” much like when they click their headlamps on and off.

So no, honking of car horns is not grounds for violation. As long as you don’t do it aggressively, and disrupt the community’s peace, feel free to say “Hi” and “Hello” using your car horn.

Other Tips

The Caribbean has two (2) seasons: the dry season and the hurricane season. The dry season usually runs from January to May, while the rest of the year is defined by the hurricane season.

When Is A Bad Time for You to be Driving in Barbados?

During hurricane season, roads and highways can be slippery, while unpaved roads can be very muddy. It would be best for you to take extra caution during these times.

When it comes to nightfall, Barbados has a lot of poorly-lit roads and streets. These are common, most especially in the countryside. So if you ever want to go on a night drive, it would be best for you to just drive around the city centers.

Night driving in Barbados when you’re over 70 might also call for some extra precautions. Make sure to double-check your headlights, your seatbelt, your steering wheel, and breaks.

Things to Do in Barbados

Barbados is a country that is more than just the tranquil scenery. If you immerse yourself in Barbados’ culture and day-to-day life, you will see how great the potential is for growth.

Drive As A Tourist

When you’re in Barbados, try not to stay in your hotel so much. Barbados offers a variety of exotic cuisines that might convince you to book your next trip in. Local food in Barbados came from different influences: European, African, Indian, and Asian. Some say that even Bajan seasonings have a unique twist to them.

Search for the best Cou Cou, Barbados’ national dish. You can also drive on over to Oistins, a fishing town on the southern coast of the small island, and get a taste of their Bajan macaroni pie, Bajan fish cutters sandwich, and their shallow-fried flying fish (one of Barbados’ national symbols).

If you’re more of a pastry kind of person, look for different coconut bread. This is a traditional Bajan treat. Like anything homemade, there are different versions of these that you can try out.

Work As A Driver

f you stayed in Barbados for a long time (months/years), you could explore getting a driving job. A bit of extra income will not hurt. One main qualification for the job is for you to be familiar with the country’s road networks and not get caught up in asking for Barbados driving directions.

There are different jobs associated with driving. From time to time, Barbados has vacancies for courier services, passenger transport, machinery operations, and the like. You can drive cars, motorcycles, public buses, or trucks. The latter two(2) might need some additional credentials, but you can always inquire if you know how to drive the big ones.

According to Salary Explorer, the average yearly income of drivers in Barbados is 1,270 Barbados Dollars (BBD), that’s about 630US. However, some go as high as 3,970BBD or about 1,967USD, as of October 2020. As long as you’ve reached the Barbados legal driving age and have passed the local driving license test, Barbados can soon be at your fingertips. Plus, if you are a writer, you might publish material on driving tips, Barbados edition!

Work As A Travel Guide

If you have a liking for travel and talking to people, working as a travel guide may also be something worthwhile for you. Do remember that if you say yes to any paid job in the country, you should obtain a valid work permit before starting work. All work permit applications are filed to the Barbados Immigration Department, with the following requirements:

  • Proof of financial capacity (at least an annual income of USD50,000)
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Duly completed application form (downloadable from www.barbadoswelcomestamp.bb)
  • Other special documents requested by the Immigration Department

Apply for Residency

To qualify for a permanent resident visa, you should have been a holder of an immigrant visa for at least five (5) years. After that, if you can further prove that you can sustain yourself in the country, you can go ahead and apply for permanent residency. Under Section 5 of the Immigration Act, the requirements to apply for permanent residence are as follows:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate (if applicable) / Death Certificate of spouse
  • General Medical Certificate
  • A Certificate of Character from the police of residence country
  • Four (4) passport-size photos
  • Letter of Employment in Barbados
  • Copy of valid passport
  • Application fee (between BDS$300 – BDS$1,200)

The Top Destinations in Barbados

Considering that Barbados is an island nation, you might be so keen to ask whether you can drive around the entire Barbados island in a day?

Yes, you can drive your own private vehicle and stick to traveling along the main circumferential highway. Some travelers have accounted that you can even cover the entire island in just three (3) hours if you drive non-stop. But with all the exciting sights to see and activities to experience, one (1) day might be a little constrained. This tiny island has many surprises just waiting for you to explore and genuinely experience. You can start by checking out these destinations:

Animal Flower Photo by Jonathan Borba

Animal Flower Cave

The Animal Flower Cave took its name from the anemone-like organism that grows inside the cave. You can go inside the cave and see the formations. You can also tour the outside of the cave, where you can see the breathtaking cliff views with waves crashing onto the rock formations. This is one of the destinations that make people say how long-distance driving in Barbados is worth it.

Driving Directions

The fastest way to get to Animal Flower Cave from Bridgetown is via Highway 1C.

  1. Drive to Charles Duncan O’Neal Highway via Highway 2A and turn left until you reach the next roundabout.
  2. Turn right and drive until you reach the second street corner to your right.
  3. Then make another right to Highway 1C.
  4. Drive past the town.
  5. Turn right at Animal Flower Cave Road (street across Christ for the Crisis Tent).

Street signs are found everywhere, and you just have to keep an eye on them. You can also ask the locals once you enter Highway 1C for directions.

Things To Do

You can visit the cave yourself or join a guided tour. The rocks are slippery, so having a guide will help you navigate the surfaces safely.

1. See the Humpback Whales

Humpback whales are majestic marine mammals that are known for their “songs”. They can grow from 48 to 63 feet and can weigh an average of 40 tons. Locals say that this is where they often glimpse the humpback whale during the dry months.

2. Take A Dip Inside the Cave’s Natural Pool

There is a shallow, natural saltwater pool inside the cave that visitors can swim in. The water is clean and safe because it is replenished by the waves that come crashing from the open sea. If you want to visit the café, it would be best to bring some extra clothes even if you’ll not swim in the natural pool.

3. Dine at the Nearby Restaurant

The Animal Flower Cave Restaurant is a very stunning place. It is perched on the cliff overlooking the ocean. Just imagine eating and drinking coffee on a fair, slightly-windy day, with the sounds of the ocean waves — a perfect afternoon!

St. Nicholas Photo by Aaron Gilmore

The St. Nicholas Abbey

St. Nicholas Abbey was once surrounded by vast sugarcane fields back when Barbados was all about agriculture. Built during the 1600s, the construction of the abbey followed a Jacobean design. It is about a 19-minute drive from Animal Flower Cave and a 32-minute drive from Bridgetown.

Driving Directions

If you come from Animal Flower Cave, the fastest route to getting to the abbey is to drive back to Charles Duncan O’Neal via Highway 1B. Once at the Charles Duncan O’Neal Highway:

If you come from Animal Flower Cave, the fastest route to getting to the abbey is to drive back to Charles Duncan O’Neal via Highway 1B. Once at the Charles Duncan O’Neal Highway:

  1. Drive past the junction of Highway 2A (the connector to Bridgetown).
  2. Turn right towards the Diamond Corner New Testament Church (right before the Salvation Army Diamond Corner Corps).
  3. Make a right about 50 meters after Glad Tidings United Holy Church.

Things To Do

St. Nicholas Abbey is a popular steam mill, a distillery, and a well-loved wedding destination. It sits in the middle of a plantation where you can take a tour of, and it also welcomes guests who want to have a romantic dining experience.

1. Get a Welcome Rum Punch Cocktail

Sugarcanes weren’t just to produce sugar. It was also an ingredient for alcoholic drinks. If you drop by St. Nicholas Abbey, you will get the chance to taste the Rum Punch Cocktail brewed on site.

2. Go up Cherry Tree Hill

A few meters off St. Nicholas Abbey, you will find Cherry Tree Hill. It is usually part of the walking tours within the abbey. Imagine panoramic views of the entire Bajan east coast right within your actual sight! Cherry Tree Hill provides the perfect scenery for an afternoon of picnic and sightseeing.

Paynes Bay Photo by Anthony

Paynes Bay

If you’re ready for a more festive treat, drive to Paynes Bay beach. The waters there are calmer and perfect for swimming! The area also has various food and retail stands, showers, and watersports equipment that you can indulge in. Don’t worry! Lifeguards are on deck to keep the place safe.

Driving Directions

You have three (3) route options to get to Paynes Bay Beach. The fastest one is if you take the Spring Garden route. It will take you about 11 minutes to drive to the beach via this route.

  1. From Bridgetown, drive along Spring Garden Highway towards the north.
  2. Continue towards Highway 1.

You’ll probably enjoy the view as you drive along Highway 1 because it is a coastal road. It is also lined with multiple restaurants and hotels to explore while you are in the beach area. Paynes Bay Beach is about 5 kilometers from the end of Spring Garden Highway.

Things To Do

A trip to an island country will not be complete without getting a taste of its beaches. Paynes Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Barbados because of its pristine waters and soft, white-sand grounds.

1. Snorkel and Explore the Underwater World

The sea fronting Paynes Bay Beach is very calm, contrary to the strong waves on the northeastern side of the island. You can bring your kids in for a swim, and don’t forget your goggles and snorkel to see the rich life beneath the ocean surface.

2. Try Local Delicacies

If you visit a new place, you should always try the local food. What best way to find local foods than exploring the different street stalls. At Paynes Bay Beach, you will not go hungry and you need not bring your own food because there are plenty of food stalls around.

3. Play Beach Sports

To keep the atmosphere alive, sports activities are encouraged and welcomed at Paynes Bay Beach. The management rents out different types of beach equipment like balls, nets, and boards for everyone to enjoy.

Folkestone Photo by Carles Rabada

Folkestone Marine Park and Museum

The Folkestone Marine Park and Museum is a recreational zone that is perfect for families. While swimming is a popular activity to do in the park, you are also encouraged to explore the other sub-areas.

Driving Directions

The Folkestone Marine Park and Museum is about an 18-minute drive from Bridgetown, Barbados, via the Spring Garden Highway and Highway 1.

  1. Once you’ve entered Highway 1, drive about 7.3 kilometers north from the roundabout.
  2. Turn right after St. James Parish Church, Jerk Kitchen, and Luca’s Stop.

Things To Do

Seeing and learning about different marine artifacts aren’t the only activities to do in the park. This area is actually one of the most bustling entertainment areas in the country because there are just so many attractions and things to do within.

1. SCUBA Dive and Check Out the Stravonikitia

The Stravonikitia is a purposefully sunk ship under 120 feet of water just about 200 meters offshore. It was sunk in order to serve as an artificial reef that would promote the recruitment of coral larvae. At present, you can already see plenty of colorful corals attached to the ship.

2. Play Tennis

Yes, there is also a tennis court in the area. If you are fond of playing this sport, the energy of Folkestone will encourage you to play it here. You can bring your own equipment or just rent it.

3. Go Kayaking and Paddleboarding

If you intend to go swimming, try paddleboarding or kayaking as well. If you are not familiar with what these are, it involves riding on a flat board or a very shallow boat and just rowing yourself using an oar.

Mount Gay Photo by Leemar Gaskin

Mount Gay

For more than three (3) centuries, Mount Gay has produced some of the finest rum selections globally, not to mention that it is the world’s oldest rum distillery! For a quick reminder, if rum tasting is part of your itinerary, keep things in moderation, especially when you’re driving in Barbados.

Driving Directions

It will take you about 32 minutes to drive from Bridgetown to the original Mount Gay. Take note that there is a visitor center in Bridgetown, which you could also visit. However, if you want to see the original distillery, head on over to Saint Lucy in the northern part of the island.

  1. Drive towards the Charles Duncan O’Neal Highway via Highway 2A.
  2. Turn left and drive for 2 km.
  3. Turn right at Luke Hill Road and drive for about 2.5 km.

Things To Do

Even if you aren’t a fan of rum, visiting the distillery will be a unique experience. You might feel that you are in a laboratory with all the glass cylinders and precise measuring equipment, but no, you are just in an area where rum is made perfectly with passion.

1. Tour the Facility

The distillery is a historic landmark of the country. If you visit Mount Gay and join the distillery experience tour, you’ll be able to see the original well, the molasses house, the fermentation house, distillation house, bonds, and the rest of the grounds.

2. Go on Rum-tasting Spree

A trip to Barbados will not be complete if you won’t taste the rum produced in Mount Gay. The distillery produces different varieties of rum cocktails that you can taste. Moreover, you can even brew and craft your very own cocktail!

If you’d look at the Barbados road map, you would notice that the destinations are found in different churches around the island. Other churches may have different protocols when it comes to traffic monitoring. Having an IDP will be handy when you need to talk to local authorities. For more road driving tips, Barbados locals will be more than happy to teach you. You can also contact the International Driver’s Association for all your travel and driving permit concerns.

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